The science and art of determining the proper combination of ingredients, while balancing product quality, stability, cost, and many other factors is an intriguing puzzle that fascinates us all, particularly the formulations scientists. Critical to all these is the need for adequate documentation, the ability to search through historical records and reuse of information.
For formulation of a new product, in addition to having the best research methods, tools and manpower, it is indispensible to have a robust documentation and information management platform. What good it is to spend tremendous resources (personnel, time, chemicals, opportunity cost) in conducting a lot of lab scale experiments if they are not properly documented and no intelligence can be derived for narrowing the formulation choices from them? Carefully taking the ingredients and processing costs into consideration in the beginning for low margin industry/products is a no brainer. Having an option to check historical records of trial formulations, their output, product results and costing can eliminate major pitfalls and waste of current resources in pursuing definite paths of failure. Only a robust electronic system that can offer dynamic and complete capabilities to search through historic records, based on user-defined parameters, can really benefit an organization.
This type of formulations management platform should ideally eliminate the need for scientists to document anything outside of the system and should offer across-the-board capabilities for developing and managing formulations from their infancy (lab or bench scale efforts) to pilot-scale runs through to the finalization of a formulation for commercial scale production. The ingredients mix, processing steps, processing parameters, instructions and in-process controls can all change during the evolution of a formulation. For this reason, it is very important to adequately document them in a system where the information is discoverable with the use of a few keyboard strokes. If documentation, safekeeping and retrieval of information is left up to each individual formulations scientist, then even within a single organization one will notice multiple different non-standard ways of managing similar information. Information may be stored on paper, shared network drives, personal computers, in individual’s heads, which will make collating and searching for any useful information a true nightmare, if not completely impossible. Even searching through properly maintained paper documents and reams of spreadsheets will make it extremely tedious, time consuming and expensive. In the worst case, the information may not be found. As such, the use of a single platform for formulation records and information management like LabVantage 8 is important.